Local News in Review – January 2019

Here’s my latest review of news for Collier voters about our local elected officials and governing bodies.

In a sentence: Commissioners elected Bill McDaniel as Chairman and named members of the Sales Surtax Citizen Oversight Committee; growth, development and redevelopment activity continued; Naples Councilwoman Linda Penniman resigned due to concerns over her husband’s health and a special election is scheduled for April 2; the City will be moving more than 900 properties off septic tanks at a cost of almost $15 million; and Marco Island takes preliminary steps in its city manager search. 

For more on these stories and other news you should be aware of, read on!

Board of County Commissioners (colliercountyfl.gov)

Next election: August 2020 Primary
On the ballot/incumbent: District 1/Donna Fiala, 3/Burt Saunders, 5/Bill McDaniel. Find your commission district HERE.

Sales tax surcharge

  • Commissioners appoint sales tax oversight committee members. They will review expenditure reports and validate expenses to make sure the proceeds from the tax increase are used only for expenses allowed under the sales tax hike plan. Naples Daily News, 1/10/19

Growth, development, redevelopment

  • Rural Lands town idea scaled back from 4,000 acres to village of 1,000 acres or less. Some conservationists welcomed the news, but cautioned that even a smaller proposal needs to be cognizant of environmentally sensitive lands and endangered species. Naples Daily News, 1/9/19
  • Immokalee Road median landscaping east of 951 to be completed this spring. Pump stations for the irrigation wells were recently installed. Naples Daily News, 1/14/19
  • Proposed 350 apartments in North Naples draw criticism at public hearing. So County planning commissioners (again) put off a vote on Stock Development’s request for an amendment to the county’s growth management plan. Naples Daily News, 1/17/19
  • Golf course purchase proposal moves forward. Commissioner Fiala cast the lone dissenting vote when it became clear that fellow commissioners were opposed to keeping the property a golf course. Naples Daily News, 1/22/19
    • Related: Golden Gate golf course where homes planned offered to county for $28 million. Naples Daily News, 1/17/19 
    • Related: Editorial: Golden Gate golf course opportunity merits close consideration. Naples Daily News, 1/19/20
  • Immokalee Area Master Plan gets a new chance at approval. The Collier County Planning Commission will continue a page-by-page review of the latest version of the plan on Feb. 21 before making recommendations to the BCC. Naples Daily News, 1/31/19
  • Potential buyers eye County land in Estates after residents balked at bus barn idea. Commissioners voted to further explore plans for a property swap between the county and the Collier school system that would put a joint vehicle maintenance facility on the land. Commissioner McDaniel cast the lone dissenting vote. Naples Daily News, 2/2/19
    • Related: Editorial: Collier should try to do better than a bus barn for Estates residents. Naples Daily News, 2/6/19

Other County news

  • County to study impact of short-term vacation rentals like Airbnb. Commissioners voted unanimously to support the county Tourist Development Council’s recommendation. Naples Daily News, 1/9/18; Action Item 7619
    • Related: Vacation rentals may be in legislative battle between local vs. state control this year. Naples Daily News, 1/31/19
  • McDaniel elected chairman of the BCC. Burt Saunders was appointed as the board’s vice chairman. GNCC Advocacy Watch, 1/12/19
  • Whose beach is it? Condo owners, The Ritz stake their claims, shoo public away. Commissioners do not plan to open the private beaches for the public, Commissioner Andy Solis said. Naples Daily News, 1/13/19
  • Medical marijuana law changes sought by Commissioners. Chairman McDaniel will send a letter to the Governor offering proposals to make marijuana dispensaries more acceptable to places like Collier County. Naples Daily News, 1/24/19
  • County unveils new emergency notification system for storms, brush fires, evacuations. The location-based free service, called Alert Collier, will allow county officials to send mass alerts to subscribers via text messages, phone calls, emails and hearing impaired devices. Naples Daily News, 1/30/19; www.alertcollier.com
  • Fire prevention fee hits church in the collection plate. The new system of billing for access to county water by churches, nonprofits, businesses and others results in savings to some but a big increase for others. Naples Daily News, 2/5/19

Naples City Council (naplesgov.com)

Next elections: April 2019 (special election/Linda Penniman); February 2020
On the ballot/incumbents: Mayor/Bill Barnett, Councilors/Reg Buxton, Michelle McLeod, Ellen Seigel

  • Naples to hold special election April 2 to fill seat vacated by Linda Penniman. The qualifying period for candidates began Jan. 28 and ends Feb. 8. The winner will serve the rest of Penniman’s term, which expires Feb. 1, 2022. Naples Daily News, 1/24/19
    • Related: Penniman resigns due to husband’s health concerns. Naples Daily News, 1/16/19
    • Related: Ted Blankenship, Ray Christman and Randy Read qualify to run for vacant Naples City Council seat. Naples Daily News, 1/30/19
    • Related:  Former Naples City Manager Bill Moss and former attorney George Dondanville qualify for special election. Naples Daily News, 2/4/19
  • Proposed NCH Downtown ER expansion clears another hurdle. But the Planning Advisory Board stipulated that the hospital devise more solutions to potential parking problems before the City Council hearing. Naples Daily News, 1/9/19
  • City to move forward with proposal to move more than 900 properties off septic tanks. The total cost will be about $14.7 million. Naples Daily News, 1/14/19
    • Related: Editorial: Naples takes a small but important step in what must be a statewide effort. Naples Daily News, 1/16/19
  • Council votes to spend $1 million to improve Naples Bay water quality. The vote was unanimous, but Vice Mayor Gary Price asked for a definition of success from a data-driven water quality perspective. Naples Daily News, 1/16/19
  • Council keeps “Boats on the Beach” program afloat. A final vote and public hearing are required at a future meeting. Naples Daily News, 1/18/19; About the Program
  • Dredging of Gordon Pass put off when Army Corps diverted funding. Because it is a federal channel, only the Corps can do the dredging. City staff are drafting letters to state representatives urging funding for the project. Naples Daily News, 1/17/19

Marco Island City Council (cityofmarcoisland.com)

Next elections: November 2020
On the ballot/incumbents: 4 Councilors/Jared Grifoni, Larry Honig, Howard Reed, Charlette Roman

  • Commentary: Marco begins 2019 with first step toward effective government. With the professional help of the interim city manager, I’m hopeful the council will establish a framework for effective governance, one that will be less volatile and subject to manipulation. Charlette Roman, Member, Marco Island City Council, via Naples Daily News, 1/11/19
  • Marco Island ups penalties for violations of endangered species ordinance. But Council stopped short of adding the strictest penalties it can. Marco Eagle, 1/11/19
  • Council rejects assisted living facility. Approval of the requested rezoning would have facilitated the construction of a three-story, 143 unit facility on five of 12 acres. Naples Daily News, 1/23/19
  • Council takes preliminary steps in city manager search. A senior advisor with the Florida City and County Management Association will meet individually with Councillors about what they are looking for in a manager and the city’s most pressing concerns. Marco Eagle, 1/29/19

Collier County School Board (collierschools.com; School Board)

Next elections: August 2020
On the ballot/incumbents: District 2/Stephanie Lucarelli, 4/Erick Carter

  • New high school site lauded by School Board. The 2001 School Board purchased the 60 acre “Site GGG” with foresight, anticipating the future need. Naples Daily News, 1/9/19
    • Related: Brent Batten: There’s a new high school coming to northern Collier County. Naples Daily News, 1/5/19

Fire Districts

Next elections: August 2020. Find your fire district HERE.

North Naples Fire Control and Rescue District 

  • New fire station in North Naples still possible after commissioners reject land sale. Commissioners directed staff to meet with representatives of the Orange Blossom-Pine Ridge Community Alliance to see whether they would support some form of a fire station on the property. Naples Daily News, 1/9/19

Greater Naples Fire Rescue District

  • District starts 14 new firefighters. A federal three-year grant enables the District to increase the number of two-person quick response medical squads. Message from Chief Schuldt, 1/9/19
  • Greater Naples Fire Chief calls on County to regulate storm shutter use due to safety concerns. Chief Kingman Schuldt wants homeowners to take down their storm shutters 30 days after a hurricane passes or 30 days after hurricane season wraps up. NBC-2.com, 1/14/19

North Collier Fire District 

  • Strategic planning benefits community’s fire service. The District’s recently completed 2018 – 2023 strategic plan documents its current status, short-term and long-term goals, and availability of resources to achieve those goals. By J. Christopher Lombardo, Chairman, North Collier Fire District Board of Commissioners, via Naples Daily News, 01/15/19

That’s it for January’s local news. Have a great February!